Jill Poston – Clemson University
I first heard about Southwestern Advantage when I was growing up, because my dad actually sold books in 1979-1982. I heard stories of him selling in Nebraska, Iowa, and Texas, and thought, “That sounds interesting/slightly weird.” I met Spencer Hays, the Executive Chairman of the Board for Southwestern, at one of my dad’s national meetings for his company, and he asked me if I was going to sell books in college, and I said “I didn’t even know girls sold books!” He said, “Let me tell you a secret: girls kick the boys’ butts selling books.”
I didn’t think much else about it until I was in college and received an invite to hear about it at a campus info meeting. Even though I already knew a lot about the company, I was still worried about coming out for the summer because I didn’t know if I could do well and I was worried about missing out on my friends back home and all the fun events that we had planned for the summer.
I ended up taking an interview. I was told if I worked hard, saw enough families, and had a winning attitude while doing it, then I would have more fun, gain more skills, and make more money than anything I could do back home.
My first summer I sold in Oklahoma – I have never seen land so flat in my life! I stayed with Southwestern alumni from the 1960s, Dale and Vanna Hume. They were absolutely perfect and so kind and understanding to me and my 2 roommates.
My summer started tough. I remember how lonely I felt – it was definitely the toughest I’ve ever experienced. I followed a coach one day, and all of the sudden this job made so much more sense! The rest of the week (and summer) was still really tough, but I was always told, “When you work hard, you get better.” I worked my little butt off all summer and was rewarded with being the top first year from Clemson University and finished number 17 in the company.
I grew so much that summer. I appreciate my parents a lot more now, understand how to coach myself when no one else is with me, how to entertain myself, how to always find a way instead of an excuse, and have really honed my skills and abilities with people and communication. In the years to follow, I learned a lot about leadership, too.
If I could give any piece of advice, don’t wait. If you’re thinking about selling this summer, just do it. It’s worth it. I just graduated from Clemson in May 2010, and it sure is nice to walk around a career fair wondering “Which company would be lucky enough to work with me? Which company do I actually like?” instead of “I hope someone hires me.” I know that what I possess in terms of experience, work ethic, goal-oriented mindset, and a winning attitude are really rare to find in 20 somethings.
I don’t believe that college is the best four years of your life. It only gets better after you graduate, if you prepare yourself while in college. It’ll be the best four years of your life if you don’t prepare for the next step. Prepare yourself for your career and life after college while you’re still in college. College will provide you with academic training in your field during the school year – use the summer to set yourself apart.